Good news on several fronts, but not all fronts!
Not only are some of my bills steaming ahead towards passage, the House of Delegates is advancing big-picture legislation on several fronts to improve Virginia economically, improve our education system, and protect our freedoms!
First things first – THANK YOU for all your calls in support of HB 963 to PROTECT 20-WEEK PAIN-CAPABLE UNBORN CHILDREN! After passing a tough three hour (maybe a record) hearing in subcommittee, this bill then went on to a hearing in the full Courts of Justice Committee on Friday afternoon and was carried over to the 2017 session.
The behind-the-scenes activity was grueling and the progress was miraculous, but we should not be satisfied until we have this law in place to protect these babies.
Our Pro-Life team: my LA Daniel, Olivia Gans Turner (VSHL), Louise Hartz (VSHL), Del. Bob Marshall, Maggie Disney (VSHL), and Cathy Marshall
Next, the flagship bill for school choice this year, Parental Choice Education Savings Accounts, passed the House Appropriations Committee Friday as well!
That means that NOW is the time for you and ALL YOUR FRIENDS – that’s everyone you know in Virginia – to start calling their delegate and ask them to support real, meaningful school choice for Virginia families.
The evidence is clear: school choice helps kids who use it, it helps the kids who stay in public school, and it saves money at the same time. It’s a win-win!
Helping Public Schools
Two of my bills to make other improvements to public schools passed their own committee tests this week. HB 1132, which allows school administrators to exercise common sense and discretion in deciding whether non-felony level misbehaviors need to be reported to police, and HB 1134, which would eliminate disorderly conduct charges for students on school property or school buses, should both make it easier for teachers and students to make it through a normal school day without unnecessary distractions. Virginia is first in the nation when it comes to school referrals to law enforcement and courts, a dubious distinction, and giving some discretion back to school officials should help ensure that reports are only filed when they actually need to be. There’s little doubt these will see broad bipartisan support and strong opposition on the floor of the House Monday; it will be interesting!
My bill to protect Virginia against Common Core adoption is chugging right along – it passed out of the House with all Republicans and over 1/3 of Democrats voting in favor, passed its hearing in the Senate Public Education subcommittee, and should have a full hearing soon in the Senate Committee on Education and Health.
Right to Work & Charter Schools
Two more measures are on their way to being permanently established in the Virginia Constitution that hold promise for our Commonwealth. Legislation to add Virginia’s Right-to-Work laws to the Constitution passed the House and is on the way to the Senate; this will help ensure that employees can’t be compelled to join a union if they don’t want to. Virginia’s charter school law is also on its way to becoming part of our Constitution after passing the House last week, a step that will make the Commonwealth more friendly to the creation of charter schools. The Washington Post wrote a good piece on this bill and the opposition it’s received from the public school establishment. I’m proud to say I support both of these bills.
WORTH NOTING: I spoke with some constituents last week who were concerned about the efforts being made to reinstate reciprocity in Virginia for concealed-carry license holders. I believe these efforts, as they stand now, will strongly undergird our ability to keep and bear arms without otherwise compromising our 2nd Amendment rights. The existing mess we are in – on the verge of cutting off reciprocity with dozens of states – came into being because it is left up to our State Superintendent of Police (and to a certain degree our Attorney General) to decide if states qualify for Virginia reciprocity.
That decision will be replaced by a clear cut legal standard: If another state gives Virginia reciprocity, we will do the same. At the same time, the House is moving to pass a law that prohibits individuals subject to a permanent protective order for a domestic violence offense from possessing a firearms. This legislation is limited to permanent protective orders granted by judges after a full hearing with the opportunity for representation by counsel, which ensures due process protections for all parties involved.
Too Early to Call
I was amazed to pull into my gas fill up stop on I-95 (exit 104) on the way home Friday and see gas at $1.27/gallon; wow! The lower price is hurting gas tax revenue which is set at percentage of the purchase price. The Northern Virginia Transportation District may be targeted with a new gas tax to compensate for reduced income from lower gas prices.
I consider this very bad news, especially since the tax is a Metro Tax to prop up the Metro money pit. The only hope for Metro is privatization. Read about how that could play out here. I’ll do everything I can to oppose this tax hike.
Tolls Tolls and More Tolls and New Capacity on I-66
The two big complaints about the new tolls on I-66 inside the beltway were the outrageous dollar amount and the allocation of tolls to projects other than I-66 improvements. We are making progress. The proposal on the table now includes a new eastbound lane added ASAP ahead of tolling in +- 3 years and that anticipated toll rates will be $5 to $6 dollars each way. This is a start, but we’ll be pushing for lower or no tolls.
There is a lot more going on but that’s it for this week’s update. Stay tuned for more updates, and, as always, give me a call, send me an email, or stop by and visit anytime!
My session address is: General Assembly Building, Room 721 Capitol Square, Richmond, Virginia 23219 or you can reach me at:
Visitors and Activities this week!
Sunday: Eagle Court of Honor for Campbell Hayes Baker
Tuesday: Beth Newberry and Becky Wang and Family
Tuesday: Sheriffs Roper (Clarke Co.) and McEathron (Warren Co.) I have been working with them on a budget amendment to open a new training center for Law Enforcement officers in NW Virginia (without spending more money).
Wednesday: Pain Capable in Constitutional Law Subcommittee hearing
Thursday: Andrew (MWAA firefighter) and Luke Murtaugh from Round Hill
Thursday: Casey Hall (Purcellville)- Student at Christopher Newport University
Thursday: Clarke County Supervisor Barbara Byrd
Thursday: Loudoun County Supervisor Geary Higgins and Loudoun's representative in Richmond, Roger Wiley
Friday: Education Savings Accounts vote in Appropriations